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Legal separation is a legal process allowing a couple to live apart while remaining married, while divorce is the legal process of terminating a marriage. There are similarities and differences between the two, as well as advantages and disadvantages to consider when contemplating one or the other.
The primary difference between legal separation and divorce is that in a legal separation, you are still married. Other differences to be aware of include:
It is just as important to understand the similarities between legal separation and divorce as it is to know the differences. Those include:
Couples who aren’t ready for divorce have the option to separate. There are typically three different types of separation:
A couple lives apart temporarily to decide whether they want to stay married. The couple is still legally married, so this trial period has no real legal effect on the assets and debts accumulated while apart. Everything is considered marital property. However, you and your spouse have the option of drawing up an agreement to govern the rules of the separation, even though it will not be court-ordered.
A couple decides to split up and does not intend to reconcile. Nothing is filed with the court, but the couple has an agreed-upon date of separation. Not all states recognize permanent separation, including Washington state. If you are in a state that recognizes this type of separation, all property and debts accumulated after the date of permanent separation are viewed as separate property. Debts, on the other hand, that happen after separation and before divorce can be joint debts if they go toward basic necessities such as childcare.
Separation through a court order that is legally binding. A legal separation is similar to divorce in that you and your spouse are required to negotiate property division, custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support. The significant difference is that you are still married and unable to remarry without a divorce.
A legal separation or a divorce can be a viable solution for you and your spouse. Contact Twyford Law Office to discuss your options with a Spokane Family Law & Divorce Lawyer in a free consultation today.